BlackBerry special unit intercepts user data around the world to assist police investigations


Most of the world knows BlackBerry as the little smartphone manufacturer that could. Despite its struggle to sell handsets in recent years, there was a time when Canadian-born tech company competed head-to-head with the likes of Apple and Samsung.

What most people, including Canadian tech enthusiasts and BlackBerry users, don’t know, is that the company is involved in a wide range of projects that have very little to do with assembling and selling smartphones. Since the all-but collapse in demand for BlackBerry handsets, the company has branched into IoT initiatives, security and reportedly driverless cars.

The CBC reports that for years, a specialized unit of BlackBerry employees have been working to intercept user data to be handed over in hundreds of police investigations around the world.

None of CBC’s sources were authorized to speak, but relayed that BlackBerry had intercepted messages pertaining to the political scandal in Brazil as well as the Major League Baseball drug investigation that resulted in the 2014 suspension of the Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez.

While consumer handset sales have declined, BlackBerry still includes several government organizations and corporations among its customers.

In the recent standoff between Apple and the FBI, a move towards encryption and other forms of protection from government breaches have come to pass. Several companies, such as Viber and WhatsApp, have made the move to encrypt their messaging platforms.

BlackBerry however, has consistently defended its cooperation with the government amidst cased such as these.

According to the Public Safety Operations team at BlackBerry, the company has developed a system to deal with what it calls a “flood of requests from police,” but beyond that, will say little more about the process it uses to field police information requests.

Related reading: BlackBerry signs new 1-year secure alert systems contract with Pentagon